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Synonyms: play-by-text, play-by-mail
See also: Fandom RPG, round robin
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PbEM stands for "Play by Email" and describes a roleplay method whereby the participants send emails to each other with their actions. It is similar to a round robin, except each person has their own character to play and may not dictate the actions of another character without permission (aka God-modding).

The technique stems from zines and play-by-mail games. In the former, round robins were encouraged, with lists posted of participant orders in various projects so that players knew who and where to mail the next section to. In the latter, games such as chess were conducted via mail with the players sending each other descriptions of their moves via snail mail[1]. With the advent of the internet and email, things changed.

Round Robin list - printed in TNFF v.45 n.6 1985

PbEM forms the foundation of most text-based RPG on the internet - the format, whether it be on a form, a message board, a chat program or a google document, follows the same format - one player writes a scene, passes it or tags the next person who writes their scene, and then passes it back or onto another party.[2]